Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Review - I'll Know You By Heart by Kimberly Job

While reading this book, I remembered years ago when I was a little girl and playing with my friend in her basement. We were having a good time when all at once her parents came home. We heard them enter the house upstairs…and then there was loud shouting, and it sounded like a bookcase landed on the floor above our heads. There was more shouting and again a loud thud. I looked to my friend wondering why she didn’t run upstairs to find out what was happening. She wasn't frightened like I expected, nope instead she was angry and sad.

She said, “They're fighting again.” She went on to explain that her parents actually had knock-down, drag-out fights. I was shocked and worried for my friend. I wanted her to come home with me, but she wouldn't. She helped me escape the house, and I remember running home grateful that my parents did not fight like that. They had disagreements, but I never heard them yell at each other, let alone hit each other.

As I have grown up, I realized I have lived a very lucky and sheltered life, not only in my youth, but in my adulthood as well, for I married a kind and gentle man. We have disagreements, but my husband has never nor would he ever hit me. When I started reading Kimberly Job’s new book, I’ll Know You By Heart, I had no idea this was going to be a book about spousal abuse. I was tempted to put it down. But as I read I realized Job has written a very moving and touching story.

Though, I must be honest, as I read I was a little frustrated at first with the main character, Stephanie. She’d learned early on in her marriage that Mark, her husband, was abusive, yet she stayed with him and had children. Then I remembered another close friend of mine, who escaped an abusive relationship with her first husband. She told me that a woman in that situation is always hoping her husband will change and that he’ll be the man she fell in love with. AND some women in such situations have such low self esteem that for some reason they feel as though they deserve the abuse, and they stay because they think they have no choice. They don’t know how to provide for themselves and their spirits are so damaged they can’t reason. So is the case with Stephanie in this book. And it isn’t until her husband hits their son, Tyson, that Stephanie finally realizes she has to do something.

One of my favorite character’s in the book is Tyson. What a brave little kid! Remembering that incident from my childhood when I was in the basement of my friend’s house and seeing the look on her face, my heart went out to Tyson and what he and his sisters had to endure before their mother realized the damage that was being done to them.

Here’s the back liner of the book.

The day Stephanie Roberts met Jared Wakefield, she didn’t realize they had met before. Running from an abusive marriage and trying to safeguard her children, Stephanie turns to Jared for support—but he needs more from her than she might be capable of giving. With her abusive husband looming in her past, the difficulties they must overcome seem insurmountable. Is it possible for love to conquer all? I’ll Know You By Heart is a timeless romance that explores the possibility that relationships span the entire realm of eternity—a story about abuse, hardship, and betrayal—ultimately a story about the healing power of everlasting true love.

 I’ll Know You By Heart is not only a book about an abused woman, but it’s also about faith, hope, joy and love.

You can by this book here.

(This book was published by Valor Publishing. I received a free book to review, but I have no vested interest in its success. I reviewed it because I liked it.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday's Writing Tip--Advice from Stephen King

I'm still a little under the weather and not feeling very well, but I wanted to post something to inspire you today. Take a look at this advice from Stephen King. And smile. :0)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Mormon Blogfest: Stories from the Book of Mormon--The Stripling Warriors

(It's True Sir, All Present and Accounted For painting by Clark Kelley Price)

I’m participating in The Mormon Blogfest. My topic is Book of Mormon Stories: The Stripling Warriors. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints part of our scripture study is The Book of Mormon. One story I particularly like is the stripling warriors. Their story started long before they became warriors and went to battle. They were descendants of Laman, which made them Lamanites. The Lamanites who lived in seven lands and cities were converted to the gospel by the sons of Mosiah. Through their conversion they became a righteous people. They were so committed to live the gospel that they didn’t want to be known as Lamanites. They wanted a different name.

The name is rather long. When you first look at it you might think it means the opposite from what it really says. In the Book of Mormon, Alma 23:17 it tells us. “…they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies…” Sounds like they were against Nephi and Lehi, doesn’t it? But that is not the case. Hugh Nibley, who was a professor at Brigham Young University, explained their strong name very well. He said that Nephi-Lehi means a combination of Nephi and Lehi and anti, in this case and point in time, means a face-to-face meeting or a joining together with somebody. (Nibley, 339) Their new name meant they were joining together with Nephi and Lehi.

In Alma chapter 24 we learn what sets the stage for the Anti-Nephi-Lehi young men to become stripling warriors. We read that the Lamanites were riled up because the Anti-Nephi-Lehies broke away from them and wanted to go to war against them. What was the Anti-Nephi-Lehies’ reaction?
“Now there was not one soul among all the people who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war; yea, and also their king commanded them that they should not.” Alma 24:6

Knowing that their past sins had been forgiven and their swords were wiped clean by Christ’s atonement, they didn’t want to go back to the way things were. They wanted to keep their swords clean of blood.
The Anti-Nephi-Lehies had an enemy knocking on their door wanting to do battle. But instead of storing up weapons, they buried them. Their actions spoke louder than words, and what they did next becomes even more poignant. They didn’t raise the barriers between them and their enemy, they lowered them. And when they saw the enemy coming against them; they prostrated themselves before them.

The Lamanites had no mercy. They killed over one thousand of these brave men. But as the Lamanites realized that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies really weren’t going to fight… a miracle happened. The Lamanites’ hearts began to swell, and they threw down their weapons.

Now you’re probably thinking, but what about the men who were killed? A miracle didn’t save them. Those Anti-Nephi-Lehies, who made the ultimate sacrifice, knew what they were doing. They gained a heavenly reward. And because of their sacrifice their sons and daughters’ faith waxed strong. Many brothers, fathers and grandfathers lives were sacrificed on that field. Their families felt this great loss, but they knew their loved ones had gone to a better place and that their legacy would long be remembered.

Try to imagine how those who survived in the field felt. Here their fellow soldiers, their soldier-brothers, gave their lives to keep their covenant with God never to fight again. You can be certain that they would not let such a sacrifice be in vain. They would keep their covenants!

Time passed…and the Lamanites became contentious towards the Anti-Nephi-Lehies once again. Ammon, one of the sons of Mosiah and a great leader, was so worried about them that he took them to the land Jershon where the Nephites could protect them. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies then became known as “…the people of Ammon” Alma 27:26. We refer to them as the Ammonites.

What happened next between the Nephites and the Lamanites? All-out war. In Alma 28:2 we read “…tens of thousands of the Lamanites were slain and scattered abroad…” Verse 3 records: “Yea, and also there was a tremendous slaughter among the people of Nephi.” So this was a time of great mourning. Imagine how the Ammonites felt knowing that so many Nephites had died protecting them.

The war would rise and fall after this and would eventually become so bad that the Ammonites were willing to break their covenant with God to help in the fight. One man who insisted they keep their oath was not only a chief captain, but also a prophet and the keeper of the records. Helaman feared their very souls would be in danger if the Ammonites broke their covenant with God, so he told them thanks, but no thanks. He’d rather lose the war than have them cut off from the Lord.

Realizing the dire situation their people were in and that many Nephites were dying protecting them and also remembering that many of their brothers, fathers and grandfathers had sacrificed their very lives not to bloody their swords, the young men of the Ammonites stepped forward. They hadn’t taken the oath and they were willing to fight. These brave boys made a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites and to protect their land. Hmm, kind of reminds me of our military today: good, strong people doing what they believe is right.

For more information about the stripling warrior check out some of my previous posting. For example 10 Stripling Warrior Character Traits You Can Apply to Your Life

I imagine if you’re not a Mormon that you have more questions about the church. If so, you might want to check out the other topics on The Mormon Blogfest:
The Book of Mormon and Missionary work with Kayeleen Hamblin
Faith in Jesus Christ with Myrna Foster
Families with Charity Bradford
Family history with Laura D
Joseph Smith with Annette Lyon
Restoration of Jesus Christ’s church with Kelly Bryson
Temples with Krista V

Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Give Away, Blog Award, and A Glimpse into My Personal Life.

This week the lucky winner of my book give away is Cheryl from Book Tours and More. She wins a Love Inspired book. Remember to get in on the drawing leave a comment and become a follower of my blog. :0)

I received the Awesomesauce Award from Roxy who blogs on A Woman’s Write.

Thanks, Roxy. You’re the sauciest!

Now, it's my turn to pass the award along to five other blogs I enjoy following:

Cathy at Cathy Witbeck-Story Painter
Terresa at The Chocolate Chip Waffle
Danyelle at Queen of the Clan
Rachel at Rachel Rager
Liz at Liz Sez

Now for a glimpse into my personal life. I returned home late Saturday night from the LDStorymakers Conference. What an amazing time! The conference co-chairs Jaime Theler and Crystal Liechty did a tremendous job and my hat is off to them. It takes many, many hours of planning and leg work to make a writing conference a success. Not a job for the faint hearted.

I met a lot of my blogging friends there! It was such a thrill to hear someone call my name, turn around, and there would be one of my blogging buddies. It was like meeting a long lost friend only better because it was the first time of coming face to face with someone I knew...kinda. I hope I didn’t scare too many. I was suffering from a cold and not enough sleep. And the thing is, even though I spent Saturday night in my own comfortable bed, I still couldn’t sleep because I was so wired. The Whitney Awards is partly to blame.

I attended the Whitney Awards for the very first time Saturday night. I’ve attended award ceremonies at the national Romance Writer’s of America conferences, so I’ve seen major productions with celebrities such as Nora Roberts and Janet Daily (big names in that genre). The Whitney Awards was a much smaller affair, but it was more fun because I actually knew most of the people who wrote the books. Some of their acceptance speeches brought tears to my eyes.

Pictures and the official list of the winners will soon be on the LDStorymakers website. So check it out when you have the time.

This is going to be a short post. I’m still suffering from a cold and lack of sleep. But I’ll post again tomorrow. I’m participating in an extravaganza about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I’m a member. My topic will be Book of Mormon stories. And of course, I’ll be writing about the stripling warriors, which is one of my favorite stories.I don't know why that is, but it might have something to do with the research I did for the book there at the right side. ;0)

Hope to see ya tomorrow.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Band of Sisters--Author Annette Lyon--Guest Blog

Last year I interviewed Annette Lyon when her book, Tower of Strength, was released. I wanted to interview her again because she has another wonderful book out this year, but I didn't want to do the same thing I've done in the past. I wanted this posting to be different because this novel is very different from Annette's other books. This book strikes close to home for those left behind when their loved ones leave to serve their country. Plus, Annette is involved with a worthy charity that I thought you would like to learn about, and what better way than to have Annette tell you in her own words. I'm going to turn the rest of this posting over to my friend and fellow author...Annette Lyon.

***

“Mama, I love Dada. Dada all gone.”

Meredith’s daughter was 10 months old when her father was deployed to Afghanistan. She was nearly two when she said that and otherwise coping well, but late-night moments like that were hard when her dad was away.

Several years ago, I interviewed five military wives whose husbands were deployed to Afghanistan. Their experiences differed, but they shared commonalities and challenges they wished those not in the military understood.

The interviews began as research for a magazine article aimed at showing what life at the homefront is like. I learned so much and felt so passionately about the topic that I was driven to write an entire novel on it. The result is Band of Sisters.

I learned a lot of misconceptions about deployment, as well as what the rest of us can do to help support military families.

“I Understand; My Husband’s Gone on Business”

The wives found that the most common misconception about deployment is that it’s essentially like being a single mother, or that women with busy husbands can relate.

One admitted that she, too, assumed that’s what it would be like. “Fixing a lawn mower or handling all the finances were not what was stressing me out,” she insist. It was not knowing where her husband was, if he was okay, or whether she’d ever see him again.

Meredith added, “It would help if people saw beyond the fact that my husband is away, to the fact that he is constantly in harm’s way.” During one phone call, an air raid siren sounded, and her heart nearly stopped. She was put on hold for ten minutes. She held her breath, not knowing if she’d ever hear her husband’s voice again. She discovered later it had only been a drill—not a typical business trip phone call.

Bethany pointed out that when your soldier calls home, you don’t know if it will be your last conversation. “You pray the last thing you do before you finally fall asleep—if you are fortunate enough to sleep that night.”

Daily Life

When asked about their regular schedules, the common thread was the never-ending burden of worry. “I have to keep reminding myself that I’m experiencing a normal response to a very abnormal situation,” Sarah said.

Bethany described her typical day: “I wake up trying to leave my husband’s life in God’s hands.”

With the time difference, the wives greeted each morning wondering if she had an e-mail from her husband. Perhaps he was on-line and could chat. Or he could be in an area where he could call. Or was he dodging bullets? She’d check the computer regularly until lunch, wondering, worrying. She’d read the wires for news of bombings or casualties. Would the doorbell ring, with two soldiers bearing the worst news of her life?

Eventually she’d let her mind rest—somewhat—because he was in bed. In Sharissa’s husband’s case, “bed” consisted of old boxes embedded in sand, a Humvee hit by an RPG, where the vehicle burned as her husband tried to radio for air support. And it was a tent where he was so covered by tick bites he prayed for relief from the itching so he could sleep.

Whenever a soldier is killed, all communication lines are closed down, and a wife will wring her hands until she knows whether the soldier was hers.

If she doesn’t hear from him in the morning, she’ll start checking e-mail and waiting for the phone to ring again in the evening, because he’ll be waking up then. When the kids go to bed, she’ll collapse in front of the television in the dark and fight the loneliness.

Reaching Out

So what can the rest of us do to help? The wives agreed that the simplest acts of service make all the difference—acknowledgment that they’re going through something difficult, something others can’t really understand.

“For me,” Sarah says, “the acts of kindness that have meant the most are the ones where people see a need and step in without me needing to ask,” including something as simple as a mother sending her daughter to help with children during a difficult sacrament meeting.

A welcome service is a listening ear if a wife wants to talk—but not to expect an outpouring. Talk to them as if they’re still the same person as before. “We have our bad days when we need a shoulder to cry on, or someone to listen to us,” Liz says. “And then we have our good days, but it still doesn’t mean we’re really okay.”

Other suggestions:

—Give any service at all. Look for things that her husband used to do.
—Provide child care, so the mother can have time to herself—especially to attend the temple.
—Sympathize, don’t judge. “I had someone tell me to stop whining, that this experience would make me stronger,” Liz says. “I already knew that, and I didn’t need anyone to say it.”
—Pray for the military family. The wives have been touched and uplifted upon hearing, “I don’t know what to do, but my family has been praying for you,” and Meredith insists, “If anyone wishes they could do more, but they can only pray, they have done enough!”

And now, ANOTHER way to help:
I’ve been working with the Flat Daddy® organization to support families with a deployed parent. Flat Daddies (or Mommies) are life-size photos of the deployed parent from the waist up. Families mount them and then carry their Flat Daddy around with them, whether it’s to a birthday party, a field trip, trick-or-treating, or simply to the store or a soccer game. In a powerful way, these cut-outs give a measure of comfort to families and especially children. Babies have been known to go straight to their parent off the plane because they recognize Mom or Dad.

In the past, donors could pay for an entire Flat Daddy® (about $50), but now you can donate any amount you can afford, whether it’s $5 or $500 or anywhere in between. You can buy a Flat Daddy for a specific family if you have their e-mail address as well. After you pay for it, a code is sent to the family so they can claim their Flat Daddy online.

Learn more about the Flat Daddy® Project and read the first three chapters of Band of Sisters, click here.

Thanks, Annette!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What is Your Brand?

What does branding have to do with writing?

Y’all know what branding cattle means. A rancher marks his livestock with a brand so everyone knows that animal is his.

And so, how do writers brand what they write? Well, it doesn't involve branding irons. Every time a writer writes she/he is branding the book so readers will know who wrote it. Their writing stands for something. Think about it…what do you think when you hear the names J.K. Rowlings, Stephanie Meyer, or Mary Higgins Clark? You think of their stories and the impressions made. You know that if you go into a store and ask for a J.K. Rowlings book, you’re going to receive a magical story where one scrawny kid with limited powers will overcome evil. For Stephanie Meyers you’ll get good vampires helping a mortal girl develop courage. And Mary Higgins Clark will put ordinary people in life-threatening situations, but good will survive.

These authors have branded their names with their writing. But what if they choose to write in another genre? Does the brand still stick? Usually it does because branding has to do with more than wizards and vampires. It has to do with the author’s voice.

To show you what I mean, I’ll pick on myself. I’ve written several books that are inspirational fiction. The Forgotten Warrior was about a young woman with a black belt in karate who was going through a very bad time in her life. Just when she thought things couldn’t get worse she was thrown back in time to Helaman and the stripling warriors. As the story develops the protagonist learns that faith builds courage.

My next book was An Angel on Main Street. No time travel here. The story is about an eleven-year-old boy who gets in "noble" trouble with the law. As the sheriff escorts the boy home, they come upon part of a nativity in the center of town. No one knows whose is building the scene. He tells his sick, little sister about the nativity and that no one knows who is building it. She tells him angels are and when the baby Jesus comes he’ll make her better. The book follows the boy as he tries to find the nativity builder to bring the baby Jesus to his little sister. He learns that miracles do happen.

These are two very different stories, but they are both branding my name. How is that? Both stories are inspirational fiction and there’s my writing voice.

I have another YA time travel coming out in August, but I’ve also submitted a romantic suspense novel to my publisher. AND the thread that keeps them in common is, you’ve got it: writer’s voice, inspirational fiction, and my name. When someone sees my name they will know what will be in the book.

So how do you go about developing your brand? Focus on, what your writing says. What are the common themes in your work? What is it that will make readers ask for your books by using your name?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blog Drawing and The Carrot Cake that Hates Me.

The winner of the weekly book drawing is…Shannon.
Her blog is Faith, Hope and Love.
She wins a Love Inspired book. So if you want to win a book:
  • leave a comment
  •  become a follower of my blog
and you will be put in the pot for next week’s drawing. ;)

Now about that carrot cake.

Last week my husband, Bruce, asked me to make his favorite carrot cake for his birthday. I quit making it years ago because that cake hates me. Let me state my case.

The last time I made it I was working for an accountant. Bruce’s birthday falls on April 15th, which is a very busy time in an accountant’s office. Well, I came home after a long, hard day at work and made the cake. When the buzzer went off, I checked it and the batter was bubbling/boiling. I’d never seen that combination and especially in the oven and with cake batter! I really think it was laughing at me.

Years have gone by with Bruce wanting the carrot cake, but remembering my horrible experience he was happy with chocolate. However, when I asked him last week what kind of cake he wanted, he looked at me and said, “You know....”

I thought, well, maybe after all these years the cake might have changed its mind about me.

WRONG!

First, as I collected all the ingredients I realized that I didn’t have enough eggs, and there were no carrots in the veggie bin. Since we were pressed for time (grandson playing in a soccer game in less than an hour), I asked Bruce to run to the store while I began to mix the dry ingredients. He came back with the eggs, but he’d bought carrots already grated, which would have been a great timesaver, but this cake needed tinier shreds. Since I had such a bad history with this temperamental recipe, I didn’t want to tempt fate. I begged him to go back and just get regular carrots, so we could grate them the size we needed. Good sport that he was he went back. I mixed the oil into the dry ingredients and started adding one egg at a time. On the very last egg my mixer growled. The beaters were locked  as if they were welded together. I stood there in disbelief.

Did I tell you this cake hates me!

My daughter was visiting, so she tried to help me. I grabbed the batter-dripping beaters, and she took the handle of the mixer. We pulled and pulled. Finally after much tugging, laughing, and more of my stating how this cake hates me, we were able to pry the beaters from the mixer. The mixer was hashed. Fortunately for us though, the cake was well on its way, so when Bruce returned with the carrots we were able to just hand mix the rest of the ingredients into the batter.

I put the cake in the oven and set the timer. About 20 minutes into the baking this horrible-burning scent began wafting through the house. I quickly checked the cake. Okay, so this time it wasn’t bubbling/boiling, but the cake batter had risen like foam and was spilling over the sides of the cake pan, burning to the bottom of my oven. I’m no expert, but I don’t think a cake is supposed to do that. Not wanting to admit defeat, I left it in the oven, hoping it would change its mind and a miracle would occur.

The timer finally went off, and I took it out of the oven, placing a rather odd-looking cake on cooling racks. I covered it with a towel, not wanting anyone to see this glorous failure, and we headed to the soccer game. When we returned, I found that the center of the cake had sunk. I figured I could camouflage that with the wonderful buttery, cream cheese frosting.

And get this…everyone loved it. What’s with that?

So...I’m going to share the fun of the carrot cake that hates me. All I can say is good luck, and I bear no responsibility if the cake mocks you, laughs at you or is a diseaster in anyway. I just thought I'd share the joy.

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Add and mix well, 1 1/2 cups cooking oil. Add 4 eggs, one at a time and mix well.
Add:
3 cups finely grated carrots (uncooked)
1 cup chopped nuts
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting

Frosting:
1 cube butter
1 (8oz) pkg. cream cheese
1 pkg powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix until smooth and creamy with electric mixer. Top with 1/2 cup chopped nuts.

Do you have a recipe that causes you stress? Please share and make me feel better.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes - Book Review

Have you ever thought--wouldn’t it be nice to have an extraordinary gift like ESP or to be able to read thoughts or even to be clairvoyant in some way? Well, I have and I think it would be awesome. Imagine what you could do. The possibilities are endless. Unfortunately in the real world such “gifts” are rare if not impossible.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them in the fiction we read.

If you like reading paranormal fiction, but you’ve held back because in the national market such books can be riddled with foul language or graphic sex, do I have a book for you!

Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes is a wonderful paranormal read with a dash of romance and a good healthy dose of intrigue that is free of swear words and pornography.

Autumn Rain, the main character in the book, is a woman gifted with the ability to read imprints left on objects. She’s a bit quirky in that she never wears shoes (I love shoes, so I didn't identify with that), she eats only healthy foods (something I admire, but I'm holding out for the day when they find sugar has a vitamin in it), and she knows the medicinal qualities of herbs (very cool).

When her father mysteriously died in an accident, Autumn inherited his herb shop and the building it was in. Autumn sold the herb business to Jake—the man she secretly wants a relationship with, though he treats her like his kid sister—but she kept the building and turned half of it into an antique shop.

In an attempt to help a couple find their daughter, Autumn learns of a cult-like group that takes in lost souls. As she investigates further, she meets Ethan McConnell, another possible love interest, who is looking for his sister. Both young women may have been seduced to join the group and have gone to live at Harmony Farms, near Rome, Oregon. To add to the intrigue, one night as Autumn returns home she is attacked by a former member of the group and given a key that has a horrifying imprint. Something is very wrong at Harmony Farms. With Ethan’s help, Autumn and Jake go undercover to find out what this group is all about and hopefully track down the girls.

What more haunting truths will Autumn find?
Are the girls she searches for still alive?
Will Autumn get caught?
Is Jake a good guy?
Is Ethan?
And which one will turn out to be the man of her dreams?

You'll have to read the book to find out. Oh, I haven’t told you about Autumn’s twin sister, Tawnia, who also has a clairvoyant gift—that of drawing people before she meets them. She’s a wonderful character, and I feel there is a sequel in the making.

Imprints is a great paranormal novel full of twists and turns that will keep you reading late into the night.

Rachel is holding a contest that started April 15th.

Here's how it works.

Every few days starting on April 15th, Rachel will post a trivia question about Imprints on Twitter, Facebook, and on her blog, Rachel’s Ramblings. With the exception of the first few questions, you'll need to have read the book to figure it out, so start reading now!

To enter the contest, make a comment on her blog with the answer to the question. Meanwhile, she'll moderate the comments so no one can see the answers until the end of the contest. For every right answer, you gain one entry in the drawing for a $50 GIFT CERTIFICATE to the bookstore of your choice. For every person you send to her blog to respond to the question (whether through a review or  any other means), you and they both get an entry. So make sure your friends and family mention in their comment that you sent them. The contest will run for a month, and if she gets a lot of participation, she'll add more prizes.

Since I've posted this review on the 16th, the first question that was posted on the 15th is below. Have fun and good luck!!!
Question #1

What are imprints?

Now this is an easy question, but they will get harder. You'll have to eventually read the book to get them all.

If you enjoyed this book, please let the publisher know that you'd like to see more books for women in this genre. Every e-mail will help!

(Imprints was published by Deseret Book. I received a free copy to review, but I have no financial interest in the success or failure of this novel.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The End=The Choice

I left you with a question Monday. How is playing a game of golf like writing a book? Like the game of golf, you need to keep your story on "course" and end the game with a hole-in-one for the climatic scene. Ba-da-da.

And speaking of endings that's what we're going to talk about today.

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the beginning of a book and how to start your story with change that comes into your character’s life. Last week was about the middle of your story and how your character needs to climb the story mountain. So this week we'll focus on the end of your story, the climatic scene and what needs to take place.

Your protagonist has been doing her/his best throughout your story sometimes chasing red-herrings, but always trying to stay on course, and fighting to find the solution to the problem that threatens her happiness. The climatic scene then has to present your protagonist with a choice.

Yes, there have been many choices made all through the story, but this choice is THE CHOICE. This choice tests your character’s soul. This choice is the biggest deal of the entire book, the choice that will make or break your story.

Your character has to make a decision that shows her true SELF not only to the other characters in the book, but to those faithful readers who have followed your protagonist through hundreds of pages, read every chance they had, and lost sleep worried for her. You owe them. So what about this choice? Let’s break it down.

The choice is:
  • Pivotal to the story
  • Demands action
  • Once made cannot be undone
All through your story your protagonist has been waging a war against danger and now the climax needs to deliver. The battle is nearly over and your hero must do the ultimate task to win. Will she be steadfast holding to truths she reveres as sacred or will she fold? It’s up to you.

Don’t be afraid to let your character suffer just before this final decision. Remember the saying--it’s always darkest before the dawn--it applies here. This is also a great place to balance emotion with action. Help your reader feel your character's pain. This moment should also be the big reveal, where all the secret facts are put before your character. So there’s going to be a lot of feeling.

A word of warning: the climatic scene and how your character acts must be believable and logical. Make sure you’ve laid the foundation so that the climax gives the reader fulfillment.

If you’re writing a series you don’t have to fulfill all the expectations of your reader. Think of the Harry Potter series. At the end of book one “he who must not be named” was still at large, but do give your reader a wind down.

The end should also have a quick wrap up. All issues have been resolved and everyone lives “happily-ever after.” This should be short, sweet and fulfilling.

Now, not all stories have a “happy-ever-after”. I remember reading a book where the ending was very sad. Some readers like that. Some authors like that, too. And there’s nothing wrong with it. You have to decide what kind of story you want to be known for and go for it. Just remember that with everything you write you’re branding your name. Branding your name…a good subject to talk about next week.

So I’ve told you what I thought about the climax, what do you think? What else is needed in the climatic scene of a book?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Drawing, Blog Award and Golf???

Let's start the week off with the winner of my weekly drawing.

L.T. Elliot wins a Love Inspired book.

Don't forget, you can be a winner, too. All you need to do is--become a follower of my blog and leave a comment. :0)

I had a nice surprise. I was given a blog award from Shawna atThe Forever Blog.

Isn't it cute?

I'll pass it along to some of the awesome blogs that I follow.
Victoria at The Welcome Matt
Calista at The Steampunk Reverie
L.T. at Dreams of Quill and Ink
Sheila at Why Not Because I Said So
Abby at Abby Annis

A couple of weeks ago I confessed that I was a Trekkie.


Well, today I have another confession. I love to play golf. There's something about whacking that little ball as hard as I can that sets my heart to racing. My husband loves to golf as well. We've gone golfing when the wind was 40 mph, when snow was falling, and when it was so hot bacon could fry on top of the golf cart. (What was I thinking?)
Every spring we watch the Masters Tournament in Augusta. This year there was a great deal of hype because Tiger was playing. No doubt about it, Tiger is good. But he's not my favorite golfer. Of course, that would be my husband (who dreams of playing the Masters). Next on my list is Phil Mickelson. He is one class act, and I was so excited to see him win, especially after all that he and his wife, Amy, have been through this last year. (She was diagnosed with breast cancer. That's Phil kissing Amy to the right.)
 
Here's a question to ponder: How is playing a game of golf like writing a book?


I'll give you my answer Wednesday.

Have a great Monday!!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JULIE COULTER BELLON.

Julie Bellon's new book, Dangerous Connections, is now in stores. I thought you might like to know a little more about the author behind the book.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Well, I originally wanted to be a burlesque dancer, but when that didn’t work out I turned to writing. Haha. No, not really. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. When I was little, I even re-wrote endings to films like Return of the Jedi to suit my own purposes. (My ending had the party being from Han Solo and Princess Leia’s wedding.) Writing has just always been a part of me.

Tell us a little bit about your new book.
 My new book is Dangerous Connections, about a French counter-intelligence agent who comes across a terrorist plot, but before she can do anything about it, she is captured by the terrorists and her brother is shot. A handsome American doctor tries to help her, but gets caught up in the espionage himself and it’s a race against time as the fate of nations hangs in the balance. It’s all set in Paris and I love the international feel to it.

Tell us about your other books.
My first book was Through Love’s Trials, a novel about a lawyer who finds out his firm is involved with terrorism. My second book was On the Edge, about a Canadian CSIS agent who finds a biological weapon in a private hospital in Uganda that is set to come to the U.S. through Canada. My third book, Time Will Tell, is about an American woman who goes to London after her son is killed and is pulled into an international terrorism plot against the American president. My fourth book was a non-fiction book called, The Eagle Scout and Duty to God Awards: What Every Parent Should Know. It’s a book to help parents with scouting, and helping to cross-reference requirements that work for both awards. It helps with record-keeping and gives all the hints I learned in having so many boys of my own. My fifth book was called, All’s Fair, and it was about an army doctor and his female colleague who are captured by insurgents, and asked to do something no patriotic American would ever do. I loved the international feel and pull of current events on this one.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
Writing is my de-stressor in life. I love just sitting down and creating something on a page, something unique that came out of my own thoughts. It’s invigorating.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor? Not really. I enjoy a lot of different writers, and I love to read, but I think my writing style is pretty unique.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?
When I was younger, my family moved around a lot. I’m from Canada and have lived both in small towns and big cities. I love the wide open spaces in Canada and the inherent friendliness of the people. I also traveled quite a bit when I was younger to the United States, Greece and Mexico, with a stop in Germany. Since I’ve been married I’ve been able to travel all over the United States and in France and England. I love exploring new places and just soaking up the ambience of a different country. There’s no place like home, though, and after all the exploring, there’s nothing better than my own pillow and bed. And honestly, I think it doesn’t really matter where I live, as long as I have my family around me.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
My computer desk is between my kitchen and family room, so even when I’m writing, I’m right in the thick of family life and activities. I don’t get a lot of computer time, actually, so I think a lot about my scenes and when I get a chance, go to the computer and get them down. It’s sort of handy, because I can keep an eye on my kids if I need to, or dinner, and still get some work done. My background music is usually Barney or Sesame Street and yes, sometimes I find myself humming to it.

 Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
I don’t watch a lot of television. Currently, my favorite shows are Castle and 24. I like the sharp wit in Castle (and plus it’s about a writer!) and 24 always has those plot twists that keep me guessing. I hope my books have some wittiness and plot twists in them, too!

How has being published changed your life?
Well, I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through my writing, and I’ve been privileged to hear how my books have touched them. I also have to dress up to go to the bank and the post office now, because everyone there reads my books and knows who I am.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website.

I am the Thursday blogger for Six LDS Writers and a Frog blog (http://sixldswriters.blogspot.com) and my website is www.juliebellon.com I have a quarterly newsletter that I send out with sneak peeks of my upcoming works, deleted scenes, booksignings, and contest info, of course I think it’s something you wouldn’t want to miss. I currently have several booksignings planned, and am participating in a Water for Warriors charity drive to help the water for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq taste better. All the information on what I’m doing and what’s coming up for me is on my website and I update it often, so people can check back.

Thank you for the interview. I really enjoyed talking to you!

Thank you, Julie!!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Climbing the Story Mountain

Monday I forgot to announce the winner of my weekly drawing. I blame my mental lapse on the holiday. The winner of last week's drawing is Elizabeth Morgan. I'm mailing her a Love Inspired book. If you would like to be eligible for my weekly drawing leave a comment and become a follower of my blog. Nothing to it. ;0)

Last week for the writing tip we talked about the beginning of a book and that a story should start with change that will alter the hero’s life. He/she will never be the same. Now we’re going to talk about the middle of your book.



For me, as I’m thinking of a story, I’ve always felt that if I have the beginning and ending in mind I can start writing, and that the middle will take care of itself. But that is not to say that the middle is not important or needs crafting. The middle takes your hero/herione on a hike up a story mountian to the climax. Each scene MUST build tension, develop even more change, infuse complications, and keep the hero/herione focused upon reaching his/her goal, which is the top of the mountain and the climax of your book. So let’s break it down with a do and don’t list.

Do:
  • Build tension
  • Add complications
  • Demand action
Don’t:
  • Delay—belay
  • Add unbeatable odds
  • Rehash
Let’s talk about the do list. Your story is building, one scene at a time and a misstep could make your hero fall off his story mountain. Plus, with each step forward your hero comes upon complications. These complications have him make either a good or bad decision, but he’s always moving forward which builds tension. Complications demand action from the hero to overcome. What the hero decides to do with each complication adds another layer to the story and can provide important information that he will use to help win the climax or reach the mountain peak.

Now let’s focus on the don’t side of the middle. You’ll notice that with delay I added belay. If you delay your story with unnecessary information, such as having your hero stray from the path of reaching his goal to solve his problems, you belay progress and your story dies. Belay means to stop or quit, but it also means obtaining a hold during mountain climbing. The hero can't get stuck as he climbs his story mountain. Don’t belay the story with unnecessary holds (information). This happens in many ways for instance, you’ve come across some wonderful research that you want to include in your story, so you add it and then all of a sudden you don’t know what to do next. If you find yourself in this situation it’s because you’ve belayed your hero and taken him in a direction he doesn’t want to go. Some call this writer’s block, which is really a story roadblock because you’ve taken a detour off your story mountain. Always be on the alert for this malady.

Another problem is having unbeatable odds without an equalizer. Always make sure your hero has something that will give him strength as he faces his foe. Think of David and Goliath. Goliath was a mighty foe, but David had an equalizer…his sling.

The next don’t is rehash. I’ve been guilty of this and it’s easy to fall into this habit. Because I read one chapter at a time at my writer’s group I fell into the habit of rehashing the story within each chapter. I did this so my fellow writers would know what was going on. DON’T do this. Your reader is very savvy and has stayed up into the wee hours of the night reading your book. If you rehash the reader will grow weary, think your hero is stupid, and wonder if the writer has Alzheimer’s. Never underestimate your readers. They have memories, they have been keeping score, and they are anxious to see what happens next, not rehash the past.

There you have it. Always remember each scene needs to build toward the climax! Everything the hero thinks, says, and does moves the hero farther up his story mountain.

What are some tips you’ve found that helps in writing the middle of a story?

Monday, April 5, 2010

WHAT ARE YOUR DRAGONS?

Late Friday night my daughter and I went to see the new movie How to Train Your Dragon.

What a wonderful feast for the eyes! Oh my stars! Loved the dialogue, the characters had depth, and the dragons…if you’re a fan of dragons you could have you pick of many different kinds.

The plot is familiar, a son--who is different from everyone else and a disappointment to his father--finds strength in his difference. As a result he changes how everyone looks at him, but he also helps others to look past what is in front of them to what is in the heart, not only in him, but in dragons. For me the dragons were symbolic of things we struggle with and are trying to learn to tame.

So this got me to thinking. What are the dragons in my life? What holds me back from seeing what is really important? Some of my dragons are personal to me, but there are a few I can share.

Time dragon (black, hard to see, but he's there...lurking) – There’s never enough time to accomplish everything I want to do with my writing. (4 RS novels to rework, a screenplay, 2 middle-reader books, 1 YA time-travel novel, 1YA paranormal to outline)


Organizing dragons (red and mean looking) – My kitchen counter seems to always be cluttered, my desk stacks up with projects, stacks of books grow no matter how many book shelves I buy.


Weight dragon (brown with chocolate-colored eyes and always smells like freshly baked cookies) – Yeah, same old story, I need to lose 20 pounds. I’m working on it, yet this dragon seems to always be with me.

I could list more dragons, but these three I want to work on right now. So, how do I plan to look past what is obvious and train these dragons? I have a plan…

Time dragon – Everyday I’m going to work on my WIPs (work-in-progress). Time is going to be on my side. First up will be the screenplay for An Angel on Main Street. And since I’m telling you about it, I now have someone to report to. I’m going to give myself a month.

Organizing dragon – My goal is to keep the kitchen counter and my desk clutter free. Organizing as I work will tame this dragon. Everyday I’m going to clean as I go. No more procrastinating. Before I turn the lights off at night the clutter will be gone. (wish me luck)

Weight dragon – This is the one that will trip me up because I have a very bad sweet tooth. However, if I allow myself only one dessert a day and keep my calorie count low I should be able to train this dragon to obey. It's all a matter of choice.

Okay, now that I’m well on my way of training my dragons, what about you? What are the dragons in your life and what are you going to do to train them?

Enjoy this trailer I found on youtube.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Interview with Tristi Pinkston


My friend, Tristi Pinkston, has a new book out title Secret Sisters. It's filled with Tristi's wonderful sense of humor. I thought you might enjoy learning about her new book, how she came up with the idea, and how her wonderful characters are also helping the community.

Since my interview with you last May, you’ve been busy writing and have a new book titled Secret Sisters. Tell us about it.

My book is about three women who serve as the presidency of the Relief Society in their town. It’s a comedy/mystery … I call it, “chick lit for the elderly,” although it really can be enjoyed by readers of any age.

How did you come up with such delightful characters as, Ida Mae Babbitt, Arlette Morgan, and Tansy Smith? Tell about them, their likes and dislikes and what’s important to them.
They honestly just appeared in my head. Ida Mae and Arlette showed up already named. Tansy’s original name was Mitzie, but I have a good friend in a former ward named Mitzie and I decided to rename the character. The name Tansy came nearly as quickly.

Ida Mae is the president, and she’s down-to-earth, practical, and has the tendency to be a little critical. She’s working on that, though, as she realizes it’s not how she should be. She has a hard time delegating and letting go, so being the president of the Relief Society has been a little bit of a stretch for her, but she’s learning how to trust others to do their jobs.
Arlette is the first counselor, and she takes everything very seriously. Rules must be followed, time must not be wasted, and every spare minute must be filled with a useful activity. She knits whenever she’s sitting still.

Tansy is full of light and fun. She’s younger than the other two by about a decade, and she can’t seem to take anything seriously. She’s very na├»ve but she does have a streak of savvy in her. She sees the best in everyone and can’t hold a grudge.

These three ladies are all different, but they share one thing in common – they love the sisters in their ward and would do anything to see to it that everyone’s needs are met.

I understand that they became so involved trying to fulfill their callings in the Relief Society that they became spies. Tell us how this happened and why.
One of the visiting teachers in the ward called Ida Mae to report that she’d noticed a lack of food in one family’s home. When Ida Mae asked the mother of the family, she was told that the husband got a job that day and would be bringing home groceries. Ida Mae strongly felt the woman was lying, but didn’t want to press her further. But Ren, Ida Mae’s nephew, had just invented a little camera small enough to go inside a fridge magnet, and he badly wanted to test it out. He talked Ida Mae into planting the camera, just so they could see if the father did indeed bring home groceries, and they uncover a whole lot more than they’d bargained for.

Tell us about Arlette’s Operation Sock Hop. What’s it all about and how can people become involved?
Arlette donates the socks she makes to the homeless shelter, and she asked me to spread the word that homeless shelters across the nation are experiencing a shortage of socks, coats, and blankets. She wrote a blog about it here: http://secretsistersmysteries.blogspot.com/2010/03/operation-sock-hop.html.
Essentially, please bring a package of new socks to any of my book signings, or donate a package to a homeless shelter near you. You can also make monetary donations directly to the shelters for them to use as they see fit, but don’t give money to me – I’m not handling money with this project – just socks.

I understand that the Secret Sisters have their very own website. Tell us how that came to be and where we can find it.
You can find the Secret Sisters at http://www.secretsistersmysteries.blogspot.com Ida Mae has been trying to get more active online and Ren is helping her figure it all out. You can follow her on Twitter @IdaMaeBabbitt and on Facebook, too. http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000733464843&ref=ts

Thanks, Tristi. And I hope Arlette's Operation Sock Hop is a wonderful success! ;)

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